Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham (a review)
4 out of 5: After her husband discovers her adulterous affair, Kitty is forced to accompany him to a cholera-infested city of mainland China. Surrounded by death, Kitty recognizes her own poor character and undergoes a personal transformation. As her husband works to eradicate the cholera epidemic from dawn to dusk every day, Kitty is left with plenty of time for self-reflection. Eventually, she learns the benefits of hard work and comes to terms with her marriage. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The story was quick-paced, and I connected with the strong female protagonist, especially after she gained insight into her prior shallowness. I can see why some consider this book to be a feminist work. I also enjoyed the complex relationship between Kitty and her husband. I only wish Maugham had used his exotic settings (Hong Kong and then mainland China) to more effect. Interestingly, this novel has been adapted for the screen three times (in 1934, 1957, and 2006). Read this one.